Excuse me, but who is our Prime Minister? No, really, who is he?
Yesterday I saw a dour looking Scottish geezer who looked like he’d spent too long working in the basement of a bank give a painfully awkward speech outside Number 10 about the changing need for change and how he will try us to his utmost, before grimacing for the cameras and scurrying inside. People tell me that he’s now our leader for at least the next couple of years.
That’s funny, I don’t remember voting for him at the last election. He wasn’t even elected by his own Party. And didn’t he rule out, just before he became our unelected PM, the possibility of a referendum on the new EU constitution/treaty? I get the feeling that whoever this guy is, he’s not exactly a great democrat.
Judging by his performance outside Number 10, one he’s had ten years to prepare for, I can see why our new PM might not be keen on public scrutiny – or elections. He’s never going to win any popularity contests. Odd also how after all the coverage of the handover from Blair to Brown in the last few weeks, not to mention his ten years in No.11, we don’t really have any idea who this man lording it over us is – or much real curiosity. His name could be Gordon Beige.
Yes, I know the official line. I know that we’re not a Presidential Democracy, that we supposedly vote for parties and not persons, but, frankly, that’s a tosh, and everyone knows it. It was already tosh in 1997, but ten years on it’s tosh on toast. As far as most voters in this ‘press your red buttons now’ age are concerned, Brown is someone who managed to rig the phone-voting and end up winning X-Factor (albeit the lower-rating, digital channel political version).
A ‘cabinet of all the talents’ as proclaimed by Brown won’t disguise the fact that his own talent as a leader in an age of mass media is hidden under a bushel. The more people are exposed to Brown’s charisma-deficit – and on TV he looks like death defrosted – the more they will rebel. Brown can talk as often as he likes about ‘the end of celebrity culture‘, and pray that people will be glad to be rid of Blair’s Hollywood ways, but it won’t change the fact that in this mediated age politicians have to be actors and performers who have to offer us – however simulated, however faux – intimacy. And have hair that doesn’t look like it’s been styled by a 1970s local authority.
Enter, stage-right, glistening with hair gel, moisturiser, and bottled shamelessness, whispering sweet nothings in our shell-likes, David Cameron who has successfully metrosexualised the Tories, and made them a more desirable, wearable, and almost shagable party.
Adding to New Labour’s woes, Brown is not just dull and unelected he’s Scottish – and representing a Scottish constituency. Not because the English are now plagued with Scotophobia (Scottish people are much more popular in England than the English are in Scotland), but because the Scottish are able to elect their own government. And a Nationalist one committed to independence at that. While the English are not – and Scottish MPs, like Brown, continue vote on English-only issues. Every time our Prime Minister opens his mouth it will remind English voters of their disenfranchisement.
Brown is aware of this. That’s why he plans to introduce a ‘British Day’. Which, of course, is not for Scotland or Wales: they would, anyway, have no truck with such arrant nonsense now that they are busy being Welsh and Scottish. It’s aimed squarely at England and the English. At keeping them deprived of their own identity and under the thumb of a Scottish-led New Labour dependent for power on Scottish votes. It’s not ‘Britain Day’ at all, but ‘Brownish Day’.
Not to worry though – it will probably be cancelled due to lack of interest.
As I recall, I don’t say or even suggest that someone Scottish (or Welsh) shouldn’t be PM. Nor do I say that the Scottish are conspiring against the English. Nor do I say that I’m against Scottish independence. For what it’s worth, I’m in favour.
Elsewhere (in a linked article) I have argued that the Union is already a dead letter, and it is those ‘British’ institutions – based in London – which conspire against the emergence of English identity and English Nationalism which would cost them their power and their point.
New Labour, the party in power at Westminster because of its skill at exploiting ‘banal populism’ over the last ten years, is the ‘British’ institution that has most to lose from the growth of English frustration at their dis-enfranchisement. As my post explains, Brown’s premiership will do nothing to stem that frustration – quite the reverse. More generally, New Labour is likely to lose its populist touch.
Accusing people of ‘borderline racism’ and Scotophobia because you don’t like (admittedly cheesy) kilt gags or can’t follow an argument is a little excessive.
“Brown is not just dull and unelected he’s Scottish”
I’m glad England is not now “plagued with Scotophobia” as this presumably means that people won’t be making asinine comments such as, “it remains to be seen what exactly is under our Scottish premier’s kilt” or describing people as a “dour looking Scottish geezer”.
Most of my English friends and colleagues get genuinely hung up on the West Lothian question, without ever asking, “Do Scottish MPs (and the population in general) have any desire whatsoever to vote on English-only issues?”
There is no New Labour-led Scottish conspiracy to take over the UK. We really couldn’t care less about influencing local policy in ‘the other Blackburn’.
I watched one of the TV debates on Mr Brown’s (then) impending premiership and a large proportion of the audience felt Gordon Brown’s Scottishness made him a less suitable candidate for Prime Minister. I was almost offended, until bizarrely, the audience selected John Reid as the best other candidate.
I’m constantly being reminded of how much the Scots dislike the English and how magnanimous the English are towards us. Frankly this is tripe. Many English people are happy to belittle Scotland, claiming that we would never survive outside the Union. That being the case, why are they so opposed to the idea letting us stand or fall on our own? To protect us from ourselves? I don’t think so. If English tax revenue funds Scotland, you’d think that surely they’d be glad to get rid of us! I do have a few English friends who are open and up front about it – neither nationality has a great love for the other as an identity. There’s a lot about Scotland that really gets English backs up. Admit it – its okay, we understand. However, this national enmity on both sides rarely manifests itself on a personal level, and where it does, it is simply bigotry.
The United Kingdom remains a union, and despite the misconceptions of the ‘we have nothing against Scotland, why do they hate us?’ brigade, most of the real power on major decisions affecting our country remains in the hands of Westminster. To suggest that Welsh or Scottish candiate should not be Prime Minister, and that only the English should be considered, smacks of racism.
For the record, I don’t like Gordon Brown and I won’t be voting for him (and no,I won’t be voting SNP either). I agree England should be able to celebrate its own identity, and ‘Brown’s Day’ is a cheap gimmick to persuade the English public how not-Scottish he is. However, I can think of better reasons to vote against him than his nationality. If you don’t like Brown because of his politics, fair enough. But if you don’t like him because he’s Scottish – grow up.
I read the glowing plaudits on the ‘About Mark Simpson’ link and there’s plenty mighty praise in there. So come on Mark, surely you are capable of more than this banal populism.
So, a ‘British’ Prime Minister has to be English? Couldn’t England set up it’s own folksy regional parliament? Even better, succeed from the the UK. But take your time and have a good whine about it first. There’s a good chap.